Film Reviews

Horror Franchise: Evil Dead (80’s to 00’s)

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Created by Sam Raimi in the early 80’s, this franchise stars Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams, a young man who gets mixed up with a cabin in the woods and an ancient book which unleashes unspeakable evil. Campbells camp turn made him a B movie star, and the franchise has been a cult favourite for a long time, with it’s daring gore, special effects and creative camera work.

The Original Three

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Evil Dead (1981) 

Sam Raimi’s film that that started them all… And actually quite ground breaking at the time. It’s quite schlocky now, and the gory elements have dated, which is the best part, as far as I’m concerned. It’s all about a group of teenagers who head out on a weekend away together to a cabin in the woods, and find a book in the basement, unwittingly releasing ancient evil which possesses them and it all gets rather crazy. Bruce Campbell as Ash is a winner, with his comically terrified face and his ability to survive, whilst being laughed at manically by the demons possessing his fiance and best friends. It feels like all the actors in this film have a really good time chewing up the scenery.

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Evil Dead II (1987)

Very dreamlike, this film starts with Ash and his girlfriend heading to the cabin, where he listens to the tape of the evil Sumerian text, and all hell breaks loose. After dismembering and burying his girlfriends corpse, he is joined at the cabin by the daughter of the cabin owners, her boyfriend, and a local couple who guided them there. Things only get worse, but the daughter manages to read passages from the text that open a time loop that can get rid of the ancient evil. Sadly, Ash is pulled in with it, and finds himself stranded in ancient times. The films long opening sequence involves Ash going nuts and being tortured by the evil entity, and it’s quite a random, eccentric watch. This is the film in which Ash’s hand gets infected and he has to cut it off with a chainsaw, later leading him to create a holster to substitute the missing hand with said chainsaw. It’s a wonderful, random, nightmarish, bloody film. With 80’s hair.

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Army Of Darkness (1992)

This time around, the story is even more comical, and Ash finds himself in a time of knights and damsels, where the land is plagued by Deadites, and only he can stop them. He has to travel to get the book, deliver the cheesiest one liners known to man, unwittingly unleash an army of the dead, and fight both stop motion and puppet evil. It’s a less gory film, and with a lot more one liners. Ash as a character is a lot more confident here, attacking the bad guy, rather than being limited to being tortured by it and fighting for survival, though there’s that too. It’s a really odd film, but actually quite well paced and entertaining.

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The Remake

Evil Dead (2013)

In this remake, the plot is basically the same, but with a modern, more slick effect. The shots are really nice and eery, and the deaths are more seriously, frighteningly gorey rather than comedic. It has less focus on the taunting, laughing possessed, and more on the deaths, and plenty of little homages to the original film. However, though it’s a slick and fairly entertaining and chilling horror, it suffers from the cliche character stupidity, which kind of slows the whole thing down. Still, a fairly solid film in all.

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The Spin-Offs

My Name Is Bruce (2007)

In this comedy, directed by Bruce Cambell, the actor Bruce Campbell is mistaken for the character he plays, Ash in the Evil Dead, and is called upon to fight real evil in Oregon.

Ash Vs Freddy Vs Jason (2011)

A short film in which Freddy Kruger and Jason Voorhees team up to make Ash’s life hell, all rather silly, but why not? Not starring Bruce Campbell.

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Evil Dead: The Musical (2003)

OK so I’m cheating a bit by including this one, since it’s a stage play musical, but it felt wrong not to mention it. Critically acclaimed, and likened to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, this adaption is rather funny and tongue in cheek, involving plot points from the first trilogy, but allowing changes to fit in songs and dancing.

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The TV Series

Ash Vs The Evil Dead (2015-)

This series of 30 minute episodes has received high acclaim from fans, and stars Campbell as Ash, a man who has never come to terms with the tragic events in his past, and is living in a trailer, when a Deadite plague breaks out. He may be the only man who can save the world, and perhaps come to terms with the past at the same time. Renewed for a second series.

Want more? Find me on Instagram @hermioneflavia or on Twitter @HermioneFWrites

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12 thoughts on “Horror Franchise: Evil Dead (80’s to 00’s)”

  1. I wrote about the first Evil Dead post and mentioned how terrifying the movie was when I watched it as a young child. The way they screeched and ran towards you! (Thanks deep rooted nightmares (!)

    I’m glad you wrote about this franchise otherwise I wouldn’t have known about the musical! I secretly (oh wait it’s out now), love musical shows such as Grease and plays like the Woman in Black so to hear about this is great. A lovely post to read. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks lovely!
      Lol, oh no! You’re big secret is out. He he. I won’t tell. Sounds like a fun play, right? And these films definitely would have scared the crap out of me when I was younger. Lol.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The first time I saw Evil Dead I was in shock. I don’t think that I ever saw a more gory movie than that one. Looking back now, I can see it for what it is, and you definitely don’t go wrong with Campbell. He just simply makes the movie what it is: a lot of fun. I actually enjoyed the second part the most. It was highly entertaining, and featured some great special effects 😊 The third part was actually the odd one. It was still a lot of fun, but it felt almost as if this was not part of the franchise, as it had such a different tone. I did not care for the remake honestly, even though there were some good scenes in it. I am currently in the middle of the tv show and am also enjoying that one a lot so far.
    This was a great feature post: highly entertaining and featuring one of the greatest horror franchises of all time. Awesome! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I love this franchise (aside from the unnecessary reboot/remake) and wish Sam Raimi would make mainly horror films like this and Drag Me to Hell. Interestingly, you mention the actors enjoyed chewing up the scenery in the first film but according to Bruce Campbell’s hilarious book ‘If Chins Could Kill’, it was a low-no-budget hell shoot and all the actors were ill, freezing and shattered by the end of it.

    Also, slightly random but if you watch Raimi’s ‘Oz – The Great and Powerful’ next to ‘Army of Darkness’ you will see they have virtually the same story of an outsider fighting the powers of evil in a mysterious land!

    Liked by 1 person

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